Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello

Cover from the 2009 festival brochure
I have had the great honor and pleasure to be an invited speaker at all three of the Heritage Harvest Festivals held at Monticello in Charlottesville, VA.  It has been great fun to watch a little (but brillant) idea turn into an amazingly successful annual event in a very short period of time.  The first two years, the event was held at Tufton Farm at Monticello.  Even with a hurricane last year, it was clear that the event had outgrown that lovely little site.  So this year, the event was moved to Montalto, a beautiful location high above Monticello.  With breathtaking views and bright sunny skies, it was a perfect venue for this important and fun event.

View from Montalto (photo by David Schwartz)
I understand that over 2500 people turned out for a day full of demonstrations, lectures, and hands-on activities all centered around the theme of sustainable gardening and preserving heirloom plants for the future.  The artisan cheese and heritage fruit tasting was very popular, and the lines so long, I never did get a chance to sample any of them.  But they looked good and smelled heavenly!  I did get to sample some of the dozens of heirloom tomato varieties on display and jotted down the names of several I plan to try in my own garden next year. 

View from the other side of the mountain! (Photo by David Schwartz)
There really was something for everyone at this event.  There were demonstrations and lectures on a wide variety of topics including cooking, medicine making, mushroom cultivation, traditional hunting methods, composting, permaculture, woodworking, blacksmithing, cider making, seed saving, and shape note singing, just to name a few.  Yours truly gave a presentation on how to grow medicinal herbs in your own backyard and led a hands-on workshop on propagating woodland medicinal herbs. 

Sampling of the heirloom tomato varieties in the taste test.
There were also lots of vendors set up under colorful tents.  They had a wide variety of products and services for sale including crafts, yummy food, seeds, plants, rain barrels, books, and skin care products.  There were also educational booths where you could learn how to grow plants and animals or how to get involved in local causes supporting farming and the environment.

Local farm products for sale at the festival
So, I strongly suggest that you mark your calendar for mid-September 2010 and watch the website that Southern Exposure Seed Exchange maintains for this festival at http://heritageharvestfestival.com/ for the actual date.  It's a beautiful area and Charlottesville is a lot of fun, so if you don't live there, you will probably find It is worth the trip.
This event is organized by Southern Exposure Seed Exchange http://southernexposure.com/ and Monticello http://www.monticello.org/.


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